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Rice: West Ham's season will be a failure if we don't qualify for Europe

15:21 GMT+3 04/08/2019
Declan Rice - cropped
The midfielder is confident the Hammers squad has the quality to be challenging for a place in the top seven

Declan Rice thinks anything less than European qualification this season should be a deemed a failure for West Ham.

Manuel Pellegrini guided the Hammers to a commendable 10th-placed finish in the Premier League last term.

The Chilean returns for a second season with a squad boosted by the acquisitions of Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals and striker Sebastien Haller, a club-record signing from Eintracht Frankfurt.

Mercurial forward Marko Arnautovic left for Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG but England international Rice insists there can be no excuses for not moving up the table.

"We have to be aiming for Europe with the squad we have now," Rice told the BBC.

"Anything below that is a failure and most of the players would say that.

"We finished 10th, but we had so many chances to finish seventh. We have to improve our away form and our consistency."

Rice, 20, will have a big say on West Ham's fortunes from the base of the midfield.

The academy product made 34 top-flight appearances last season after bouncing back from a tough first match against Liverpool at Anfield, where he was withdrawn at half-time of a 4-0 defeat.

"If you had said to me then I would have played three times for England, played nearly every game, won man-of-the-match awards and club awards, I would have said: 'No chance'," Rice said.

"I am really happy thinking about it, but I know I have to build on that this season."

Rice went a month without playing for the Hammers after that defeat to the subsequent Champions League winners, but he is proud of the way he brought himself back into contention with a strong display against Everton.

"I was in a horrible place flying home," he added. "We had been blitzed and I was dragged off at half-time.

"I played badly and was thinking I was not ready for the Premier League. There were a lot of Championship clubs interested in taking me out on loan.

"But the manager said I was not going anywhere and that I would play. I got my chance again at Everton. I took it and I have not looked back.

"If you had said to me then I would have played three times for England, played nearly every game, won man-of-the-match awards and club awards, I would have said no chance.

"I am really happy thinking about it, but I know I have to build on that this season."